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The Geonarrative Project combines the art of storytelling with the technology of geocaching: fiction as supercool treasure hunt!
The Geonarrative Project combines the art of storytelling with the technology of geocaching: fiction as supercool treasure hunt!
39 backers pledged $1,010 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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What is Geonarrative?

Geonarrative combines the art of storytelling with the technology of geocaching. In a nutshell, I write stories that can be fragmented into several parts, which I then hide across a location – scattered along Delmar Boulevard, for example, or on the campus of Kenyon College, or even along historic Route 66. These stories are hidden in tubes and affixed to, say, a fence, or a newpaper vending machine, or buried, and then I provide clues to their location using a geocaching app. The story as treasure hunt? You’re getting warm! Assemble the fragments and a narrative emerges.

Why not just call it Geofiction?

There’s actually already a thing called geofiction – real maps of fictional places. And geostories allow individuals to create narratives using videos and other multimedia tools around places they’ve traveled. But geonarratives are stories that are scattered through space. And I like the word “narrative.” It gives me the freedom to, say, write an essay about my days as a student at Kenyon College, then actually embed that story physically throughout the grounds of the college.

Why on earth would you want to do this?

Most of the stories we read unspool through time but remain in a fixed location – a book, a computer screen, a Kindle. Geonarrative allows stories to unfold not just in time but in space. How much does geography affect narrative? Who owns a text? What happens to your sense of story when you have to actively seek it out instead of passively receive it? Geonarrative allows us all to explore these questions, and many more. One thing I adore about geocaching is this sense that there’s been a hidden world all around you, just feet and yards and miles from where you sit, amazing treasure hunts almost everywhere you go. Combine that with story? Swoon. For more thoughts about this, please feel free to visit my blogsite:  http://geonarrative.blogspot.com/

Geoff thinking about the theory
Geoff thinking about the theory

 Do you have any Geonarratives written? 

The first one, “What the Heck Happened to Ashleigh and Mike?” is the story of the mysterious breakup of a couple that have been together since high school. It’s written, and ready to be “installed” at various locations around the historic LeClaire District in Edwardsville, Illinois. Each fragment can be read as a stand-alone flash fiction, and each of those flashes is also written to “resonate” or “rhyme” with the geographical location. So the story can be read in almost any order, but once the whole story is unearthed, a clearer narrative emerges. I also have an excellent idea for a narrative that will be “installed” around the arch in St. Louis. And actually, I supermuch like that Kenyon essay! Won’t you help make these things happen? After that? I’m hoping the patrons I find at Kickstarter and other interested readers will help me determine story locations or narrative elements so that this can become an even more collaborative writing project. 

Why should I be part of this project? 

What I need most of all is to access the Internet in the middle of a cornfield, or on a glacier, or in your backyard. That will require a device like an iPhone, and a year’s worth of 3G or 4G Internet access. If I raise enough money, my projects can get ambitious – the only thing limiting the scope and sweep of these narratives is my ability to travel and my ability to access the Internet wherever I travel. As an incentive, I’m also intrigued by the idea of including Kickstarter paricipants as characters in narratives, or including the locations of their choosing as literal plot points. That’s why I turned to Kickstarter – because as much as possible, I’d like the Geonarrative Project to be inclusive, shaped as much by readers and participants as by the author.

How can I learn more about geocaching? 

Check this out, and prepare to be dazzled by a hidden world suddenly unfolding all around you: http://www.geocaching.com/ 

Who are you? 

Just a boy with a dream, who’s written two conventional books (a novel called Write Your Heart Out: Advice from the Moon Winx Motel, published by Small Mouth Pressand a story collection called Out of Time, a Katherine Anne Porter prize-winner published by UNT Press) and a bunch of stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in journals like Fiction, The Gettysburg Review, the Chicago Tribune Book Review, Crab Orchard Review, the Massachusetts Review, mudluscious, Sweet, and elsewhere. Just a boy with a dream and a bunch of stories he’d like to hide backyards and rooftops across America and – who knows? - maybe the world.


Risks and challenges

There is always a risk when playing with new technology that the learning curve will be steeper than anticipated. Luckily, I'm surrounded by tech-savvy friends and writers who are also intrigued by this idea.

The challenge for me as a writer is to craft fiction that moves well beyond the technology, that seamlessly combines the unusual delivery with a content that resonates. But I've spent my whole life writing stories that don't neatly fit into little boxes, so I think I'm up for the challenge!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Weekly email updates and project links.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Personalized thank you in weekly emails and in the blog updates sent to all participants -- your name in lights!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Behind the scenes drafts, photos and video clips of the project as it's installed. Plus, the personalized thank you in every weekly email update.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A one-of-a-kind postcard story that ties in to the main narrative written JUST FOR YOU, signed and numbered and mailed from site(s). PLUS personalized thank you, PLUS behind the scenes goodies.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    YOUR NAME added to the fiction installation as a minor character! Immortality is yours! Plus the thank you, plus the behind the sceneage, plus the postcard story!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    YOUR LOCATION will be made one part of the story, and a free on-site fiction reading will be held at your location (university, town hall, public library, bookstore, even your house!). Plus your name used for a character, plus the postcard story, plus the other fab perks. These pledges cover travel in the US only; if non-US pledges are made, we may need to negotiate additional travel funds.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    An entire story will be installed at YOUR LOCATION, including readings and lectures about Geonarrative -- perfect for colleges and universities and arts communities the world over. Naturally, all other goodies apply. See above re: travel.

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Funding period

- (30 days)